The Goboyfriend and I saw the movie version of the Kander and Ebb musical, Chicago today in DC, and we were blown away by how good it was. I adored the stage production here in DC with Nana Visitor (Major Kira in DS9), Vickie Lewis (Newsradio), and Robert Urich three years ago, but the movie is in some ways superior.
[li]Renee Zellweger was great as Roxie Hart, but Catherine Zeta-Jones was a WOW as the flashy jazz babe Velma Kelly, and gives Bebe Neuwirth from the Broadway revival cast album serious competition, especially in the incandescent “All That Jazz.”[/li][li]Richard Gere is a pretty good Billy Flynn, but John C. Reilly has such an amazing singing voice in the “Mr. Cellophane” number that he, IMO, eclipses Joel Grey’s rendition on the Broadway cast album and deserves a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award nomination[/li][li]Queen Latifah must have been channeling Bessie Smith because she does an oustandingly salacious performance of “When You’re Good to Mamma.”[/li][li]Christine Baranski was criminally underused as Mary Sunshine.[/li][li]The movie explicitly shows the cynical underbelly of the legal system that the stage production only hinted at, especially in the “They Both Reached For the Gun” number, which depicts Richard Gere pulling the strings of reporters-as-marionettes.[/li][/ul]
Here be spoilers…
[spoiler]The director cut about half of the songs from the score, but if you haven’t seen the stage production you won’t miss them.
The songs in the movie are, in order:
All That Jazz
When You’re Good to Mama
Cell Block Tango
All I Care About
I Can’t Do It Alone
In addition, for the real show tune queens among us, Chita Rivera ( Velma from the original 1975 production) has a cameo as a jail inmate.
My only complaint is that the movie cut my two favorite lines from the play–“I gotta pee” and “I’m gonna get me a whole BUNCH of boys!”